Fisher Facts & Fables

Fisher Facts & Fables

Posted October 26, 2023

First of all, we’re talking about fishers, not fisher cats. As one of the largest members of the weasel family, this animal is not a cat and it doesn’t generally catch fish. While rumored to have a blood-curdling scream while hunting, fishers are typically silent when stalking their prey, and the noise often attributed to fishers is nearly always a red fox. Yes, they are aggressive hunters, but they do not attack humans and do not eat small children. They are not just nocturnal, and can be seen at any time of day. Fishers are commonly more active at dawn and dusk in the summer, and during the day in the winter. Fishers do not hibernate, and are active year round.

The fisher is a typical weasel shape: a long slender body, short legs and a furred tail. It has a pointed face with large rounded ears, and has sharp retractable claws. It is generally a dark brown to black in color, with grayish coloring on the head and shoulders, and possibly patches of white on the chest and lower abdomen.

Their preferred habitat is mixed forest with heavy canopy cover, and they try to avoid open areas like fields and roads. They use hollow logs, stone walls, tree cavities, and brush piles to rest. Fishers are omnivorous; their primary foods include small rodents, squirrels, rabbits, birds, eggs, fruit, porcupines, and carrion, with gray squirrel being a favorite. They will also prey on outdoor cats and domestic poultry and rabbits.

Fishers are shy and solitary animals and prefer to be in the forest. Preserving our forested land will help maintain a healthy balance of fishers and other animals, with less chance of them encroaching on our backyards.

Written by Dee Jepson, WLT Board of Advisors

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